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Pinnacle Buys Birds Eye For $1.3 Billion

Packaged foods company says it's buying frozen-vegetable company Birds Eye Foods for $1.3 billion to gain access to new food categories.

MOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. (AP) -- Packaged foods company Pinnacle Foods Group is buying Birds Eye Foods, the nation's largest frozen food company, for $1.3 billion.

As a result of the deal, a planned public offering of Birds Eye Foods stock will be withdrawn.

Pinnacle, owned by investment company Blackstone Group, said the purchase will strengthen its financial position and array of food products. The company is one of the largest packaged food companies with products such as Duncan Hines, Swanson frozen dinners, Vlasic pickles and Mrs. Butterworth's syrup.

Birds Eye, which is based in Rochester N.Y., sells its namesake frozen vegetables as well as products like Tim's Cascade Snacks and Nalley Chili.

The company is owned by a holding company that is controlled by Vestar Capital Partners, Pro-Fac Cooperative and Birds Eye management.

Pinnacle said it expects to fund the transaction using a combination of new-debt financing at the company and a "significant new equity contribution" from Blackstone.

The transaction is expected to close no later than the first quarter of 2010.

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